Next up: The search for alien light pollution

Today's best telescopes could see the amount of light produced by Tokyo from as far away as the Kuiper Belt. Future telescopes may be able to hunt for alien civilizations by looking for artificial lighting. (Via Gary King) Read the rest

Protecting Earth and space from people

Don't muck around in the affairs of planets that are less technologically advanced than yours. Despite how often it gets ignored, Star Trek's Prime Directive is a pretty nice attempt to take a universe brimming with life and figure out how to interact with it in an ethical way.

Unfortunately, the Prime Directive isn't terribly nuanced.

How do we relate to alien life that's as, or more, advanced than us? What if alien life is bacteria—do we still have to leave its home planet alone? How do we explore the galaxy without spreading—or picking up—any deadly diseases? The Prime Directive can't really help you here. That's why scientists from NASA and the SETI Institute are boldly going where no bureaucracies (real or fictional) have gone before—drawing up the safety protocols we Earthlings will use as we explore new worlds, and the social and ethical guidelines we'll turn to if we ever do find life on other planets. Read the rest